IN THE NEWS
LINUS OMARK IS BARONS' MR. CREATIVE
By Bob Hersom, OKC BaronsOn the Sunday radio broadcast of Oklahoma City’s latest miracle on ice - and the team’s first beyond-belief individual performance - Barons voice Jim Byers said:
“This is an all-timer right here,” as the game went into overtime, and “Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010, is Linus Omark Day,” as the game continued into a shootout.
Omark scored five goals, and added another in an eight-round shootout, as the Barons rallied past Houston 7-6, after trailing 4-1 nine seconds into the second period.
A wondrous achievement, no doubt, for the skillful Swede. Five goals, and not just five goals, but his team’s final five goals. And he scored those five in a span of just 29 minutes and 27 seconds.
Still, Nov. 7, 2010, was no Feb. 5, 1997.
“My 10th birthday,” Omark explained, “I got 18.”
That’s 18, as in 18 goals scored by Omark in a game in Sweden the day he turned 10.
He’s only 23 now, and rapidly becoming the latest Oklahoma City fan favorite.
“It was unbelievable. Everything he touched went in the net,” said Barons captain Ben Ondrus, who, according to American Hockey League research, has been on three of the last five AHL teams to have a five-goal scorer.
Until this year, Omark had played all of his hockey on the larger ice rinks of Sweden and, last season, in Russia. The adjustment clearly affected his played early this season.
“It’s a different hockey than what I’m used to,” Omark said of the U.S.-Canadian version. “There’s a lot get better in every game.”
Through the Barons’ first three games, all losses, Omark had no goals and no assists. Highly unusual for a winger who had 43 goals and 91 points in 109 games the previous two seasons.
Since then, he’s been fire on ice, blazing to 10 goals and 17 points in 12 games.
“When you compare big ice to smaller ice, when you get used to it, it’s the same hockey,” Omark said. “I had played on big ice my whole life and this season I’m playing on smaller rinks. So it’s going to take a few games, and I think I’m getting it pretty good now.”
Indeed. The five-goal game doubled his season total for goals, to 10. The 5-10, 175-pound Swede leads the Barons in that category as well as points (17 in 15 games).
“For a smaller guy, he has excellent balance and he’s strong,” said Barons coach Todd Nelson. “He’s very creative mentally, and he has excellent skills. So, when you combine those, it’s hard to take the puck away from a guy like that. He has the presence to hold onto the puck and make plays.”
Omark was asked, “What’s the best part of your game.” His answer is telling - and intriguing news for Oklahoma City hockey fans.
“My creativity,” he said. “I try to learn new things in hockey, like things nobody’s done before.”
Which begs the question: What will Linus Omark do next?
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